Category Music

President Trump and the Hard Rain That’s A-Gonna Fall

“I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
 I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
 I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

“Black guys counting my money! I hate it...

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Call and (Heartrending) Response: Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”

One of my favorite musical activities is to snag a bunch of versions of the same song off You Tube or iTunes and then luxuriate in the fine art of interpretation. It’s rather like stepping into a favorite winery and assenting to the server’s inquiry with, “Why yes, I believe I will try seven different pinots from your seven different vineyards scattered over hill and coast and dale. Cheers!”

This is especially true when the song is just flat-out great, garnering the deep respect and reverence of the covering artists.

A song, for example, such as Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

What a song.

What a poem.

Recorded in 1963 and released the following year on his “The Times They Are Changin’” album, “Boots of Spanish Leather” shows Dylan at just about his writerly best, a mere babe at 22 years old, giving clear indications of the literary bent that would earn him the Nobel ...

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A Deep Ache of Laughter: On the Razor’s Edge With Loudon Wainwright

One of the widely regarded hallmarks of great art is that it be honest and authentic, a true expression of the artist’s unique vision. The best art probes, focuses, explores, suggests, reveals. Sometimes that exploration and self-revelation plunges the artist too near scalding depths of pain and suffering, and the laying bare becomes too intense. The solace of drink, drugs, and the ultimate self-destructive behavior of suicide may then beckon.  (Van Gogh, Rothko, Hemingway, Plath, Woolf, Sexton, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain, Robin Williams; it’s a long casualty list.)

Among contemporary artists in whatever genre, probably none explore their demons with quite the unflinching, ruthless honesty of singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. (Those roman numerals loom large in his history; more on that below.)


From down here in the audience, it doesn’t look easy being Wainwright, whom I saw from two rows back...

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Fourth Annual “Songs of Summer”

Today’s summer solstice accompanied by tonight’s full moon: yes, our cup may just be in danger of overflowing. Whether this confluence signals the beginning or end of some kind of SuperDuperNatural Age of Aquarius or some other magic moment in time, I do not know. What I do know is that I’m happy, at this age, to be offering a “Fourth Annual” anything, and hopeful we can all be upright and ready to boogie again for a few more “annual” this-or-thats still to come.

And so: the envelopes, please, for this ritual of the season, which this year blends wistfulness and nostalgia, pop fun and insouciance, rock spectacle, camp and more. And in case you’re wondering why your own fave summer-themed song isn’t here,  you might check the three previous compilations, to any of which you are invited to sing along while taking a few twirls around your kitchen. I bet you’d look just grand doing so with the full moon.

*...

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Happy Centennial, Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra turned 100 years old yesterday, and there was ballyhoo aplenty in the media and various entertainment circles taking note of the occasion.

Not that Frank was alive to hear the accolades, but as famously dismissive as he most always was of praise and the gushings of adoring fans, he surely would have been pleased that the scrawny Mama’s Boy From Hoboken that he was left a body of work behind that would be duly noted and celebrated 100 years after his birth.

And such an unscrawny body of work it was!

Just one of the notable aspects of Sirius Radio’s channel 71—aka “All Sinatra All the Time”—is that the 24/7 airing of Sinatra songs seems to repeat itself as little as it does. (A small percentage of the tunes are actually sung by “Sinatra era” compatriots such as Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr...

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